It is time to sit back and take a deep breath now that the college football apocalypse has been averted. What I am going to do is pick the smoldering topics that havent' been addressed fully yet and toss my two cents in on where I think things are headed.
Did Texas really have any intention of joining the Pac 10, or was it all just a ruse to get rid of Nebraska, and gain complete control of the Big 12?
Sure does look like it now doesn't it?
Most of us thought last Friday that Texas was a shoe in to join the Pac 10. That was until the Longhorns asked for unbalanced revenue sharing and the right to start their own independent network. Texas knew for months what the exact TV deal was going to be with the Pac 10. Texas also knew that asking for those two things would be automatic deal breakers with the Pac 10.
Many experts are saying that Texas knew exactly what it was doing the entire time. They always said they wanted to stay in the Big 12 if possible. Ideally they wanted to build a new conference around themselves that would give them the business freedom of a Notre Dame and they accomplished that.
Could the Pac 10 have forced the issue by offering Texas Tech rather than Utah?
I am sure this tactic was discussed and Tech may have jumped. Texas would have loved if it happened because the "Tech Problem" would have been eliminated opening potential doors for UT and A&M to join the Big Ten if that is the eventual route they choose to go. In any event the loss of anyone but Texas was survivable. Anyone that offers Tech or Baylor an independent spot is doing Texas a huge favor.
Would the Big 12 have survived with only eight teams?
First they said if Nebraska leaves the Big 12 won't be viable anymore. When Texas and Colorado left the common feeling was that the Big 12 was dead. It wasn't...it was actually more profitable for the remaining members because there was the same amount of money left to split with two less members.
The smoking gun in all this is Dan Beebe and Texas had to have known that ESPN/ABC and FOX were not going to shrink the TV contract because of the loss of two teams. The money was the same because of the value of Texas TV sets. The league could have lost another two schools not named Oklahoma and still had been viable because the slice of pie would have been bigger for each member.
Will the Big 12 Expand Back to 12?
After the conference was "saved" the word coming from the membership was absolutely not which goes back to that bigger piece of the pie business. What exactly would TCU and BYU bring to the table except the right to have a championship game?
Jerry Jones made the interesting suggestion that the conference should go after Arkansas and Notre Dame which would make sense if the two schools actually had a shred of interest. Arkansas is happy in the SEC and the only draw is past history and access to talent in the Lone Star State. The Arkansas football program once recruited 70% of their players from Texas...now the number is closer to 10-20%.
A conference where you can have your own independent TV contract could be appealing to Notre Dame. The deal breaker is the culture of the conference and the loss of the ability to have a national schedule. If Notre Dame is going to join a conference they can do much better than this.
Why did Oklahoma let Texas take the lead?
Oklahoma doesn't have much of a TV market or in state talent base. The program is dependent on its relationship with the state of Texas for viewership and recruiting.
Will the Big 12 Survive?
Not in the long term, but it will give Texas the adequate time, and freedom it needs to position itself for the next round of expansion which will lead to 16 team mega-conferences. Now that Texas has the right to put together the Longhorn Network they can fine tune it over the next couple of years to build it into a valuable asset which they can use the next time they go to the negotiating table.
When the Big 12 does finally disintegrate whichever conference they decide to join will have to buy them out of the Longhorn TV Network which will cost an unfathomable amount of money or just let them retain it. Anyway you look at it Texas is winner unless the Longhorn Network is a flop.
Texas controls this conference now and even though they ceded some of that power to Oklahoma and Texas A&M the foundation of this arrangement is built on sand. A couple of things are going to happen to blow this thing up. First of all the conference is not going to get as much TV money as Beebe says it will. That will mean quite a bit less to share with the five have-not schools. A&M and Oklahoma will eventually tire of watching Texas make all the rules and the majority of all the money.
Will the Pac 10 and Big 12 work together on the next TV contract?
Never say never say never but the green light for the Longhorn Network will most likely preclude the two conferences from working together on a joint cable TV network. There remains a possibility that they could work a joint deal with ESPN/ABC, but I think the Pac 10 goes it alone in the next round confident that they have enough TV markets to make it work without the state of Texas.
What will be the new name of the Big 12?
Texas and the Pips
What does Colorado bring to the Pac 10?
Colorado is a good academic and geographical fit for the league. The addition brings the TV sets of Denver (18) which helps deliver the entire mountain time zone to the Pac 10. Colorado's athletic programs and facilities have fallen on hard times and the athletic department has a deficit. All these things are correctable and the thought is the move will rejuvenate the fan base and generate a lot more money.
Colorado has been struggling in the Big 12 and will continue to struggle in the Pac 10 until they can tap the Southern California recruiting market. Colorado might end up doing pretty well in that region since they have been promised a slot in the South division which guarantee's a visit to LA every year. Colorado is an attractive destination for kids in Southern California.
What does Utah bring to the Pac 10?
Utah is a top tier research institution which someday could earn AAU accreditation. Salt Lake City is the 31st largest TV market in the country and like Colorado their addition ties up the mountain time zone for the Pac 10. The Ute's are in good shape facility wise and play in a stadium seats 45,000 with plans to expand it to around 60,000.
Utah has had a great basketball program and has done very well recently in football earning two BCS berths over the last decade. That being said the Pac 10 is not the MWC and the Ute's will have to upgrade the talent level to be competitive every week.
What does it mean for Washington?
Having a championship game means there is one more step needed to go to the Rose Bowl. The North/South alignment means not playing in LA every year which could be a recruiting disadvantage. It does mean more money and more exposure for the program which should negate that. Projected revenues range all the way from 30% to double the money the school is receiving now.
How will scheduling in football work?
We are hearing the league will stick with a nine game schedule even though the other 12 team conferences have been playing eight. That means a round robin schedule of five games in the division and four cross division games each season.
Where will the Pac 10 championship game be played?
The Rose Bowl is the logical site and it would be another nice bone to throw to the City of Pasadena which has been keeping the place kept up like shrine for the Pac 10 conference. The problem with that is that if you live in the Northwest or Rocky Mountains it is up to an 18 hour drive to get to LA or an expensive airline ticket to buy with less than seven days notice.
They could rotate the game between the two divisions. It could be played in Seattle one year and Pasadena the next. They could even add San Francisco and Denver to the rotation equation.
They could also just award the game to the school who has the best record assuring a sellout crowd even though neutrality is thrown out the window.
Will they rename the Pac 10?
Looks like they will simply call it the Pac 12.
Why did the Big Ten take Nebraska instead of Missouri?
The Big Ten bought into the theory that the loss of Nebraska would force the Big 12 to implode which would have set off a period of realignment into 16 team conferences which would have forced Notre Dame to seek haven in the Big Ten.
What will the Big Ten do next?
They now qualify to have a championship game which was goal number one so that has been accomplished. Notre Dame is still the goal so they will continue to help plan the demise if the Big East and Big 12 which would lead to the Irish joining the conference. With four spots still open they could still grab a combination of Pittsburgh, Rutgers, U-Conn, or Syracuse to kill Big East football in the hopes of forcing Notre Dame's hand.